New Cross Feb meeting: Humanist Values and Digital afterlives

When: Thursday 6th February 2020, 7.30pm
Where: New Cross (map)

Humanist Values and Digital Afterlives – Fighting for the Right to Control our Legacies

As humanists, we believe that every individual has the right to live according to their own personal values, to make decisions about their own lives, and to tell their own stories. We also believe that this life on earth is the only one we have. But in the digital era, when our physical bodies die, we often leave behind vast swathes of personally identifiable and sensitive data. These data are so comprehensive that our posthumously persistent information can be like a digital self that outlives us. 

We have testamentary freedom where our physical property and our financial assets are concerned, but there is currently a legal and regulatory void in the UK when it comes to our digital identities after death. We can make our wishes about this data known – in a social media will, for example – but ultimately those wishes may not be enforceable. Facebook and other companies like it currently have huge power to determine what happens to our personal information after we die, and their decisions – based on a policy team’s own assumptions, values and priorities – may fly in the face of what we would have wanted for our digital legacy. What can humanists do to help find a better way?

Dr. Elaine Kasket is a psychologist, writer, speaker and public intellectual. She is the author of All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of Your Personal Data (Little Brown UK/Robinson, 2019), and she has also published many academic journal articles, book chapters, and blog pieces on death and the digital.

Elaine has appeared in various print, broadcast and online media, to include Psychology Today, The Telegraph, The Observer, the Times Literary Supplement, BBC television, BBC Ideas, ITN Channel 4, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4’s Digital Humans, Der Spiegel, The New Scotsman, Visão, O Globo, and the Irish Times. She has been a guest on numerous podcasts, including Mortified, The Practical Futurist, Future Fiction, Death Goes Digital and Prospect.

More writing can be found here